Records from 1841 to 1881 show Robert Thomas Head and his family as the residents of The Briars. Robert Head was born on the 4th October 1807 at Seaton, his parents were William and Henrietta Head. Robert was christened at Seaton on the 17th January 1808. He married Caroline Sarah Bidwell at Exeter on the 20th July 1833.Their son, Robert William Head, was born in about 1834.The records from 1881 show their daughter-in-law, Julia Head, and two grandchildren, Raleigh Head grandson and Adelaide Head grand daughter residing at the house. Robert Head was an attorney at law/solicitor and his son also followed this career.
A record from the Proceedings of the Royal Horticultural Society of London 11th January 1850 states, 'From R. T. Head Esq, The Briars, a seedling apple called The Briars Gilliflower the fruit of which, it was stated, was produced very much at the end of the shoots, like that of the celebrated Cornish Gilliflower apple. The Briars Gilliflower was not, however, found to possess sufficient merits to justify the committee to recommend it.'
Records from two agriculture shows state. 'Meeting of the West of England Agriculture Society at Plymouth 1953'.
Chickens, Class 3 Spanish 3rd place R. T. Head Esq., Class 8, Cochin China Dark, 1st place R. T. Head Esq., Turkey Cock and two hens, wild American Turkeys, 3rd prize of £2, R. T. Head Esq.
'Bath and West and Southern Counties Society 1854. Award of prizes at Plymouth. Commendations of Poultry. Class 5 Cochin China Buff or Cinnamon, Class 6 Cochin China Buff or Cinnamon, Class 29 Turkeys. R. T. Head Esq'.
From Alphington's burial records: Robert Thomas Head d. 12th May 1881, Caroline Sarah Head, wife of Robert, d. 20th April 1881, Robert William Head, son of Robert and Caroline, d. 27th February 1881.
Records from 1890, 1891, 1901 and 1903 show George Perkins Finch and his family living at The Briars. George was born on the 12th April 1836. He married Lucy Huxtable on the 6th July 1867 in Exeter and she died in Exeter on the 23rd July 1884, she was buried at Clyst St Mary. George ran a wine and spirits business and records from 1871 and 1881 confirm George and his family living at 144 Fore Street Exeter. Their children were: Clara b. 1869; William Huxtable b. 1870; Bertha b. 1872; Lillian H. b. 1874; Henry James Golsworthy b. 14th July 1875, announced in the Western Times on the 15th July 1875; and Arthur b. 1879. George Perkins Finch died on the 9th February 1905 and was buried in the family vault.
Reported in the Western Times dated 19th April 1919. 'The body of a lady was found in the brook near The Briars at Alphington. She was identified as Hilda May Searle wife of George Searle a tobacconist of 3, Albany Place, Heavitree Road. Hilda had been missing from her home since March. Hilda had drowned, Mr H. W. Gould conducted the inquest.
Description of The Briars dated 1922
Approached by a carriage drive through beautifully timbered grounds. The house built of stone stuccoed over with a slate roof.
First floor, main portion: four lofty and spacious bed and dressing rooms with access from a wide corridor. In the southern wing: WC with basin; four bedrooms and three dressing rooms or store rooms; also a bathroom with bath (h&c).
Ground floor: tiled entrance hall off which is a WC with basin; spacious inner hall and wide corridor with Tessellated flooring; noble dining room with bay window, handsome mantelpiece and modern grate; spacious and lofty drawing room with large square bay window and bathstone and marble mantelpiece; in southern annexe is a morning or breakfast room, kitchen with double oven range and extensive domestic offices.
In the yard are two WCs cetylene gas house, coal house etc.
In the basement are two large play rooms, WC and coal cellars.
The grounds are heavily timbered with ornamental trees, includes carriage drive, lawn, charming winding walks, shrubberies, fruit and vegetable gardens with potting and tool sheds, large vinery in four compartments, cucumber and tomato house, two rich grass paddocks with linhays and piggeries. Area in total 6a 3r 20p. Held by Mr G. Lee and sublet to Mr Mark Northcott.
Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick